By `Temitope Owotoki
President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked countries in Africa and the Middle East to focus on policies that will deliver shared economic prosperity for their citizens.
Buhari, who threw this challenge in his remarks at the on-going World Economic Forum in Jordan, said countries within the two regions can explore the advantages that abound in trade among them, for the benefit of their people.
“On trade and investments for example, we can do more. Africa represents only five percent of Jordan’s trade with the world. But we have the resources, the people and the markets to do more.
“Opportunities exist in key job creating sectors such as Agriculture, Health, Tourism, ICT, Infrastructure as well as Textile and garment to mention a few. Our new, inclusive and diversified Nigeria is definitely open for business. Our population, resources, policies and programs make it the most attractive investment destination in Africa.
“As friends and allies, we must therefore cooperate and leverage on our relative strengths. We must remain open to “Building New Platforms of Cooperation”. As we deliberate over the next two days, I would ask all leaders present to reflect on our collective experiences. We must identify how we can work together.
“In this new world without borders, my personal view is stability and sustainability can only be achieved through inclusive economic growth, and enhanced cooperation amongst nations,” he said.
President Buhari told the gathering that Nigeria was already benefiting from diversifying into other sectors especially agriculture, adding that Nigeria would soon become an industrialized nation.
“Furthermore, our economic diversification and social inclusion policies are also yielding positive results. Our country has now returned to the path of growth. We are making gains in the ease of doing business indices.
“A key driver for growth is the agricultural sector where we aggressively pushed agricultural policies that empowered millions of our rural citizens. In the spirit of “Building New Platforms of Cooperation”, we partnered with the Kingdom of Morocco to domesticate fertilizer production in Nigeria and revive over two million tons of abandoned fertilizer blending plant capacity. The outcome is we created tens of thousands of jobs in agriculture, logistics, manufacturing and retail sectors. We are able to achieve moderate growth. But it was inclusive.
“Nigeria is now at a new dawn and embarking on a new development trajectory. We are determined to industrialize Nigeria leveraging our comparative advantage. We recognize the private sector as the engine of growth and a veritable partner in our economic agenda. The Middle East is a natural partner,” he said.
President Buhari noted that lack of social and economic inclusion was part of the reasons for some of the challenges Nigeria is currently facing.
He however said the country has achieved a lot on the security front and the implementation of people oriented policies.
“I strongly believe that the lack of social and economic inclusion was the root cause of many challenges we are experiencing. Today, our population is one hundred and ninety million people. By 2050, it is estimated that we hit three hundred and ninety million making us the third most populous country in the world. This means we must start working now to ensure this population is productively engaged.
“In the last four years, we focused on security while implementing inclusive policies. On the security front, we made significant gains in fighting Boko Haram. We have recaptured all territories held by Boko Haram in 2014. We have liberated thousands of Nigerians held against their will.
“Today, I am pleased to say no territory in the Federal Republic of Nigeria is held or controlled by Boko Haram. We are extremely grateful to the many countries that have stood with Nigeria to confront this global scourge and in particular, the Kingdom of Jordan under the leadership of His Majesty, the King,” he noted.
President Buhari thanked His Majesty, King Abdallah Bin Hussein of Jordan, for the special invitation to participate at the Forum.